How to Help Beginning Authors Publish Their First Book
How to Help Beginning Authors Publish Their First Book
The best help a beginning author would want is to simply help them get their book published.
Most people have a book in them, about 80 percent or so. Now only about 10 percent of those will finish writing it, and maybe 10% of those will get their book actually published.
The satisfaction of having a book in your hands, one you can give to friends and family, and tell people about how it’s available on Amazon — these are often worth more than anything else.
I’ve written a lot about Vanity Presses disguising themselves as an “author’s best friend.” And the warnings about getting ripped off are valid.
There are lesser known stories cropping up over and over where a person is simply helping people they know to get their friend’s book published because they’ve already figured out how to set it up and get it done with their own books.
These are very small publishing imprints, which have now moved beyond simply getting their own books published and over into helping other people with theirs. Why not, after all? You’ve done all this work figuring out how to get it ready and then your friend or associate comes along and asks if you could help them with theirs…
And the overhead in publishing to print on demand is very low — because you only print when a book is ordered.
The trick is probably to not be scammy about this, but to be honest. The chance of any book becoming a bestseller is pretty remote. The bulk of all books out there sell only about 250 copies, which is generally the friends and family of that author. So you don’t want to promise them the moon, or to get into a huge marketing campaign to get their book promoted.
But you can simply get it through the wringer so that it’s formatted correctly, has a nice cover, and is available on all the major distributors. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to get produced, but the author can then learn about advertising at that point and decide whether they either want to hire someone to do their ads or learn how to promote their own book.
I’ve been self-publishing for years. My standing joke is that “it gets easier after you’ve published your first hundred.” But I’m not really kidding. I have. My books in this area lay out the various ways you can develop your own work-flow and the simplest programs you can use to get your book ready and then get it published.
And I’ve re-published many other author’s books and watched them get respectable repeat sales. And also watched some books (including my own) simply sit there. But in each case, the author was able to have a proof in their hand and see what they had created. And having that book sitting around a living room table or a bookshelf so relatives could see it was enough to get a few more sales and the congratulations that author deserved for a job well done.
Which is often all that author needed.
Most authors don’t have a clue about what they need to get their book ready for ebook, paperback, and hardback, let alone what they need to get it into global distribution. Getting their book written is one challenge, and then the next mountain to scale is getting an ebook published. By that time, they will often hire someone to get the print versions ready rather than climb yet another mountain.
The point here is that there is a business opportunity for anyone involved in publishing to simply expand into digital and Print on Demand (POD) publishing in order to help people get that nagging muse off their back, and to see their book sitting in real life in their own hands.
I suggested this to someone recently who was telling me about the trials and tribulations of magazine publishing. This is a lot of work for not much profit. POD publishing, I explained, was much simpler and there was a demand from authors who wanted people to publish their books for them. Because you aren’t having to arrange for printing or covering those costs, it has less overhead in terms of time and up-front finances.
Meanwhile, the individual author will often spend a thousand or two on getting the editing and cover and publishing done.
Would they like to spend a little less for someone to take the problems off their lines?
Would this then enable an author to get their book written because they know with assurance that once they finish their first draft, someone will help them take it through to a printed copy to hold in their own hands?
And avoid the problem of having a few thousand books sitting in boxes in their garage?
To be sure, any publishing outfit would be able to simply take a percentage of on-going sales if the book took off (or charge more up-front if the author preferred.)
Here’s an idea of what the workflow would be:
0. Advertising on Facebook to find authors who want that assistance.
1. Working with the author to get their book into shape and finalized. This might mean getting them with an editor and proofer to move the book through the various drafts.
(1a. It may also mean encouraging the author to post chapters on Wattpad for feedback while the book is being completed.)
2. Getting a cover done that is appropriate for that genre.
3. Getting the meta-data researched for keywords and descriptions so the book can be discovered through search.
4. Formatting the final version for both ebook and print versions.
5. Uploading the ebook to an aggregator to publish it on the major online ebook outlets.
6. Uploading the book and cover to both Lulu and CreateSpace to have the print version available on Ingram and Amazon. This also results in a physical proof that both the author and publishing company can review for errors.
7. Finally, approving the proof and finalizing all payments so that the author can see their book available online and then decide what promotion they want to do.
8. The publishing company can also then suggest options for the author to take at that point, suggesting courses and other services for an affiliate commission — if the author wants to take this further.
9. Contracts are committed on a per-book basis, as the author may get smitten by the writing bug and start a new career. The copyright for the book remains in the author’s hands the whole time. The publishing company is simply providing a service to any author for a particular book.
This differs from a vanity press, as you aren’t sticking the author with tons of books they then have to sell. You are facilitating their book through the POD publishing lines, without any promise of runaway success or other fairy tales. It’s simply allowing the author to jump the hurdles that would keep them from giving their book a chance at its own success.
Like someone wanting to mine gold in their own backyard. It might never pan out, but the adventure is a safe one. And they will need the picks and shovels, training and other equipment anyway. Might as well help them with their dream.
Above all, the point is to have fun with this.
Originally published at Living Sensical.